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Daily Devotion for March 2, 2013
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
Ezekiel 37 gave rise to this bit of fun, done here by the Cathedral Quartet.
Prayer for the Day Ahead
Who can tell what a day might bring? Therefore, gracious God, cause me to live every day as if it were to be my last, for I cannot know not that it not. Help me to live this day as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.
Penitential Prayer of St. Ambrose of Milan
O Lord, who hast mercy upon all, take away from me my sins, and mercifully kindle in me the fire of thy Holy Spirit. Take away from me the heart of stone, and give me a heart of flesh, a heart to love and adore Thee, a heart to delight in Thee, to follow and enjoy Thee, for Christ's sake,
Prayer for Holiness
Holy God, no one can put together what has crumbled into dust, but you can restore a conscience turned to ashes. You can restore to its former beauty a soul lost and without hope. With you, there is nothing that cannot be redeemed. You are love; You are Creator and Redeemer. I praise you with my every ounce.
I fear the lesson, my God, of the fall of Lucifer, full of pride. I pray you will keep me from such a terrible fate; keep me safe with the power of your Grace; save me from falling away from you. Save me from doubt. Incline my heart to hear your mysterious voice every moment of my life and thus be led to call upon you, for you are present in every thing and every moment.
God our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, and Spirit of God amidst us, direct our way unto you. Make us to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you; to the end we may stablish our hearts unblameable in holiness before you, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.
How Much Must We Give to God?
“God wants the whole person and He will not rest till He gets us in entirety. No part of the man will do."
~ A.W. Tozer
Exodus 13:1-2, 11-16 (ESV)
Consecration of the Firstborn
The Lord said to Moses, “Consecrate to me all the firstborn. Whatever is the first to open the womb among the people of Israel, both of man and of beast, is mine.”
* * *
“When the Lord brings you into the land of the Canaanites, as he swore to you and your fathers, and shall give it to you, you shall set apart to the Lord all that first opens the womb. All the firstborn of your animals that are males shall be the Lord's. Every firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb, or if you will not redeem it you shall break its neck. Every firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem.
And when in time to come your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ you shall say to him, ‘By a strong hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, from the house of slavery. For when Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the Lord killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man and the firstborn of animals.
Therefore I sacrifice to the Lord all the males that first open the womb, but all the firstborn of my sons I redeem.’ It shall be as a mark on your hand or frontlets between your eyes, for by a strong hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt.”
Notes on the Scripture
The lamb's blood smeared on Hebrew lintels and doorposts during the tenth plague symbolized the sacrifice that Yahweh will expect, as a sign of devotion. In effect, He declared the firstborn of everyone and everything to be His. Those who defied him died; those who obeyed Him were still to be His, but the people and working animals would live, the price of their lives paid in the blood of a lamb.
He gives a reason: that the Jews might not forget who is God, who is their God, and who delivered them from bondage and would give them the land of Canaan.
The life of a lamb, the blood of a lamb, as the price for redemption, will inform the entire course of the Bible hereafter. In particular, it is the source of much meaning and symbolism of the death of Jesus Christ on the cross: Agnus Dei, the Lamb of God, the perfect sacrifice to redeem all mankind rather than an individual. Christ was the firstborn of Mary. In fact, Luke recounts the ritual dedication of Jesus in the Temple in Jerusalem, in conformance with today's Scripture. It was the occasion when Simeon and Anna recognized Him as the Messiah. (Luke 2:21-38)
As a practical matter, sacrifice to God demands that worship be physical. A lamb was food, a source of life on earth. To destroy something valuable to our earthly life, simply to show our dedication to God, is to choose the spirit over the body. One may still be a hypocrite and give one's earthly goods to the glory of God, but it is a much greater challenge than paying mere lip service to one's belief.
The mandatory sacrifice instituted by Yahweh for the Jews is reasonable, however; other than of Himself, He does not demand the life of a human being, or female animals (which are needed in greater numbers for procreation), or donkeys. He demands that the Hebrews give enough to be significant, but not put them in danger of extinction.